Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ghiloni Park and Marlboro State Forest

A few weeks back, we had a play date with our friends Jo and Sir O.  They live down in Central MA so we tried to come up with a middle ground.  I'm not too sure that Marlboro is the middle but it worked for our purposes. It's a bit of a challenge to arrange play dates for Lil' Dude and Sir O sometimes due to nap schedules and drive times.  Of course, Mom and Dads work schedules don't help either!  But we agreed to meet up at Ghiloni Park to frolic (as non-walking babies do) at the playground.

Lil' Dude and I hopped in the car and went off in search of the park.  We had a call from Jo saying that she was going to be late due to a nap.  It was okay though because it gave us time to explore.  I've been to Marlboro many times but I had never seen this park before.  I was surprised to find that it was a large parcel of land tucked near a BBQ restaurant that Big Dude likes.  

After we drove through a golf course we passed right by the entrance to the park. My GPS told me that I should go further down the road, so I did and decided to try to circle the park.  From what I could tell, it is neatly buffered from the road by housing complexes. Once we got back to the entrance, we unloaded and set out for a stroll.  


Sign post for walking trails
The park has many soccer fields, a baseball field or two, toddler and older kid playground, skateboard park, beach volleyball court, a walking track, and oodles of picnic tables.  There were several buildings surrounding the parking area for maintenance and public restrooms.  The trails have an interpretive guide available but we didn't snag one.  Lil Dude relaxed in his stroller while I ambled along.


View of soccer fields in middle of walking track
I followed the walking/jogging track to get a feel of the area.  It is a clay packed oval that creates a bowl where soccer fields and two vernal pools were cradled.  Along the outside of the track you could veer off toward the larger fields near the parking area or into the woods.  After one loop I went off into the woods for a bit.  
Paved wooded path
The woods had a few surprises.   Along the walking path there had been picnic tabels, I did not expect to find more off in wooded alcoves.  There also were "natural" gardens that were maintained by the local garden clubs and lovely sitting areas.  I strolled in the woods for a while and then felt we should turn back in case our friends arrived.  

Part of the interpretive nature trail

Bird boxes were around the walking track

Memorial that overlooked the larger ball fields
We wandered back on the path I had gone down earlier and did another loop on the walking track. Jo called as got back to the parking area to say they were arriving. We spent another few hours playing on the baby swings, picnicking  watching skateboarders and digging in the sand. 

While Ghiloni Park is out of our way, it is a terrific park with toddler appropriate play space and lots of land to explore. It had the feel of a big city park in a suburban surrounding, with lots to do and no reason to not be outdoors.  


Should you want to visit Ghiloni Park and the Marlboro State Forest directions can be found on the city's website and a pdf of the park can be found as well.


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